Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis is a condition where there is inflammation of conjunctiva, which is the membrane that covers the white part of the eyes and the inner surface of the eyelids. This is a very common condition and although it is not a life threatening condition it can be very uncomfortable and irritating for the patient. There are many causes of conjunctivitis such as bacteria, virus, allergy, irritants etc. treatment depends of the cause.
Symptoms of Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis
- Redness in the eyes.
- Burning sensation or irritation in the eyes.
- Watering of the eye.
- Gritty sensation in the eyes.
- Blurred vision.
- Itchiness in the eyes.
- There is sticky discharge from the eyes which may be green or white in color.
- Crusting is present around the eyelashes.
- Eye lids are swollen.
- Sensitivity to light.
- This commonly affects both the eyes together or may start in one eye and spread to the other eye.
Causes and Types of Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis
- Bacteria/Bacterial Conjunctivitis – This is a bacterial infection of the conjunctiva. The bacteria may travel from the skin, upper respiratory tract or from someone who is suffering from bacterial conjunctivitis.
- Allergy/Allergic Conjunctivitis – This occurs due to allergy to certain substances such as pollen and dust. This commonly occurs in those individuals who suffer from allergies such as asthma, hay fever or eczema.
- Virus/Viral Conjunctivitis – This is caused by a virus which causes common cold. This type of conjunctivitis is highly contagious and spreads quickly and easily.
- Reactive Conjunctivitis – This occurs as a reaction to certain substances or chemicals e.g. chlorine in swimming pools.
Treatment of Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis
Treatment Depends On Type Of Conjunctivitis And Its Cause
Bacterial Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye
- Antibiotic drops or ointment should be applied to the affected eye(s).
- In case of severe infection, oral antibiotics may be required.
- The eye area should be cleaned gently with a cotton wool soaked in boiled and cooled water to remove discharge and crusts.
Allergic Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye
- Anti-histamine eye drops/ointment.
- Once the allergy is treated, the conjunctivitis resolves.
- Identify the cause of allergy and rectify it.
Viral Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye
- As is the case with common cold caused by a virus, the same applies to viral conjunctivitis. There is no specific medicine or cure for it. The infection runs its course (usually 5-7 days) and subsides. Viral conjunctivitis is extremely contagious and spreads easily. Patient should avoid contact with others and wash hands frequently to prevent spreading of the infection to others.
- Eye drops or lubricants may provide symptomatic relief.
- Applying cold compress may help in relieving irritation, itching and swelling.
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen may also help in alleviating the swelling and discomfort.
Reactive Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye
- Identify the cause and avoid it.
- Wash or rinse your eyes with water to remove the irritant or chemical from your eyes.
- Eye drops and cold compresses helps in relieving discomfort and irritation.
Steps To Be Taken To Prevent Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis
- Keep your face and hands clean by regularly washing them.
- Avoid rubbing your eyes.
- Protect your eyes from irritants such as dust.
- Avoid sharing towels.
- Never use contact lenses belonging to others.
- Clean your contact lenses on a regular basis.
- Avoid sharing eye make-up, eye drops and pillow cases.
- Always maintain good hygiene.